Friday, April 3

Calling: What is that all about?

A few days ago I wrote a post entitled Returning to Ecuador. I stand by what I wrote, but after talking and responding to quite a few private emails and conversations with several who were puzzled by what I had written, I now realize more clarification is needed.

For me, the following testimony written by a fellow missionary in Italy is a good compliment piece expressing what I was trying to express in my initial article.

FIRST-PERSON: Calling an 'undeniable,
irresistible' force
By Chris Watts

ROME (BP)--Calling, to me, is a funny thing.

In my experience, God's call comes upon you with a furious intensity and drowns you in an incredible desire to do something huge and glorious, something that is completely beyond the measure of your own abilities.

It changes your path completely and thrusts you into a new and unknown world where utter reliance on the plan and providence of God is an absolute necessity. After a time, though, once the realities and routines of this new world have set in, some of that initial intensity fades a bit, and the calling evolves into the stabilizing foundation upon which every facet of your new life is built.

It never diminishes in its strength or importance, but rather than a sword with which to storm the walls of a lost world, calling becomes more of a compass for staying true to your path. I believe this evolution is necessitated by the fact that "the calling" serves two distinct roles.

People contentedly strolling along in an easy and comfortable life often need something violent and fierce to move them powerfully and awaken them to the harsh realities of a lost and dying world. Our Baptist cocoon often insulates us from the pain and hopelessness of a world without Christ.

Some of us, me included, need to be slapped pretty hard to see things clearly and hear the voice of God. Often it seems that change never comes to those who can stand to live without it. This initial calling causes us to be dissatisfied with anything else. It is undeniable and irresistible.

However, once you start down that path, you are confronted on a daily basis with these hard realities. You no longer need to be awakened; you need to be sustained. This life is incredibly difficult. A missionary must make the conscious decision every day that this lifestyle is still worth it. "The calling," always lurking in the background, often gives you the strength to keep trudging forward.

This doesn't mean the passion diminishes. On the contrary, the passion for the work grows as you witness with your own eyes the incredible ways in which God is at work in the world, as you see lives being transformed and you sense the intense pain in the hearts of those around you. You begin to understand the power of the Gospel and you long to see people receive the
love of Christ.

I am convinced that this job to which I have been called is the greatest, hardest and most worthwhile way in which I could spend my life. And until I am called, kicking and screaming, to something else, there is nothing that could make me quit.

-- Chris Watts and his wife, Colleen, serve as Southern Baptist missionaries in Rome. Originally from Georgia, they were appointed in 2000 and have a 1-year-old-son named Cotton.


Manuel said...

Glad you and your family are back in Guayaquil!

This is definitely a great piece that all of us on the mission field can identify with. People who are being obedient, be it in Rome, Italy or Rome, Georgia should also feel the same way. Be where God has called you to be.

May God's blessings be upon you, your family and ministry as you begin this new term and continue to fulfill the lifetime calling God has given you.

Manuel Sosa
Buenos Aires

WTJeff said...


Great post. I've been working with people in poverty for 8 years and realize that I simply wouldn't be doing it if God hadn't called me to it. I'm far more comfortable in a middle class setting where there is far more stability. Although, I don't love every aspect of working with people in poverty, there's nothing I'd rather do. This has nothing to do with me, but the calling God has placed in me. He's created a love and concern in me for the least of these and I simply couldn't minister anywhere else.


GuyMuse said...


I'd love to read one of your own papers on this subject. It seems not much is written on "the call" and many therefore decide their life path based on feelings/desires. I understand David Sills just wrote a book about the missionary calling, and would like to see what he has to say on the subject.

GuyMuse said...


I think your words, ...I simply couldn't minister anywhere else... sum up well what "calling" is all about. Woe is me, unless I do this thing! I hadn't realized you minister to those in poverty. Would love to hear more about it sometime. Do you have a blog or website?

El Perro said...

" obstante, había en mi corazón como un fuego ardiente metido en mis huesos; traté de sufrirlo, y no pude..."
En tu entrada anterior pude percibir lo que ha quedado claro en esta: No se trata de hacer "lo que me agrada" sino lo que agrada al Señor.
No resulta claro para el que no ha "sufrido" el llamamiento... Cuando se trata de hacer la voluntad de Dios es como dicen en mi tierra: "Flojito y cooperando" ;)

WTJeff said...

Hey Guy,

Sorry it took so long. I stepped away from the blog world for awhile. I do have a website, Its a little out of date, but I should have that fixed next week.



GuyMuse said...

Hno. Perro,

Me encanta la frase que usas para describir nuestra actitud en cuanto al llamamiento del Señor, "Flojito y cooperando"!


I checked out your website. Sounds like you have some good ministry opps going on there in Amarillo. I like what you write about Why Plant Churches in MH Communities? Looks like a good first post to your new MHO blog!